Summer Skin Support



 

 

 

There is no substitute for sunscreen, but certain nutrients and vitamins deliver impressive summer skin support.

 

Whether you’re lying on the beach or hiding in the shade, sun protection is a skin care essential all year around. Using SPF and sunscreen and wearing caps and cover-ups when the rays are particularly strong, are all important parts of keeping your skin safe. 

 

What are UV rays and how do they damage skin?

When we protect the skin from the sun, we are really protecting against the ultraviolet (UV) rays within sunlight.

 

There are three kinds of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC, and each has a different interaction with the skin.

 

  • UVA rays have a cumulative, ageing impact and penetrate deep into the skin. They are present all year round and permeate through clouds and glass.
  • UVB rays are the “burning” ray and occur in warm summer sun. In the UK and Ireland, they are strongest from May to September.
  • UVC rays are almost entirely filtered out by the ozone layer, and most people will never be exposed. They can cause serious issues such as cancer.

 

UV rays can increase the number of free radicals in the skin, as well as damaging skin cells directly – altering how they function and stopping them working in a normal, healthy way. Characteristic signs of sustained sun damage can include wrinkles and laxity from collagen and elastin damage, thin, dry, rough, or sallow skin, spider veins and hyper- or hypo- pigmentation. Extreme sun damage and exposure can increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer. Cancer Research UK estimates that 9 out of 10 cases of melanoma skin cancer could be prevented by staying safe in the sun and avoiding sun beds.

 

Vitamin C and phytonutrients

Skin damage from UV happens in part because of molecules called free radicals. These are created when photons (tiny particles) in sunlight hit atoms in our skin cells, creating unstable free radicals that can cause damage to skin cells and cell DNA via oxidative stress. Antioxidants occur naturally in the body and throughout nature. Vitamin C is possibly the best known for its brightening benefits. Other antioxidants also have protective benefits, and many of these, for example lutein (found in kale and spinach) and zeaxanthin (found in corn and paprika) originate in plants – these are known as phytonutrients. “Phytonutrient are particularly beneficial, as the plants they are derived from use their antioxidant properties to protect themselves from UV radiation,” explains Lorraine Perretta, Head of Nutrition at Advanced Nutrition Programme™. “Lycopene in tomatoes protects the fruit of the plant. It is mostly found in the skin of the tomato and prevents “sunburn” from damaging the fruit.” “Phytonutrients are particularly interesting as plants have special properties to protect themselves from natural damage such as from UV radiation.” A study has suggested that high levels of lycopene in the skin may also support skin structure, reducing roughness, dryness and wrinkling. Who knew the humble tomato could be such a skin superstar?

 

Vitamin A

Found in sweet potato, eggs, butternut squash and spinach, we often call vitamin A the “skin vitamin” thanks to the myriad of roles that it plays in maintaining normal, healthy skin**. When we spend too much time in the sun, it can disrupt the normal function of skin –The vitamin plays a role in cell renewal, skin rejuvenation to support healthy skin as well as supporting immunity and general health^.

 

Omega fatty acids

Lorraine Perretta explains that “omegas can help skin moisture, structure, texture and recovery after certain environmental exposure”.

 

A summer skin cocktail

Much like our favourite summer drinks, comprehensive sun protection is a cocktail of topical, oral, and behavioural factors. SPF and sunscreens are important, but there are other things you can do to help skin work at its healthiest. Ensure your diet and supplements are rich in Antioxidants including vitamins A, C, E, selenium to support skin health* as well as phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. In addition to wearing broad spectrum sunscreens (these protect from UVA and UVB), plus hats and cover-ups when you’re out in the sun. Sun protection is about much more than simply stopping yourself from burning and has long term importance for safeguarding your skin health and general health along with it. By integrating topical, oral and behavioural factors, you can help elevate your summer skin support for sunnier days.

 

*Vitamin C contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

** Vitamin A contributes to the maintenance of normal skin.

^ Vitamin A contributes to the normal function of the immune system